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Coastkeeper Executive Director Recognized for Over Two Decades of Clean Water Protection

  • Waterkeeper Alliance recognizes Garry Brown’s dedication to water protection and community enrichment
  • Waterkeeper Hero Award highlights twenty-one years of Coastkeeper accomplishments


At the Waterkeeper Alliance annual meeting in June, Coastkeeper Executive Director Garry Brown was presented with the Waterkeeper Hero Award. The award recognized Garry Brown’s outstanding stewardship for the protection and preservation of clean water. The award was followed by kind sentiments expressing Coastkeeper’s deep-rooted history and sweeping achievements since its origination of over two decades ago.


The Waterkeeper Alliance unites over 350 independent Waterkeeper programs spanning across 48 countries. Orange County Coastkeeper is a long-standing member of the Waterkeeper Alliance on the frontline protecting the waters of Orange County and ensuring they thrive. Garry Brown was recognized for Coastkeeper’s widespread protection across the region which includes defending access to clean water, protecting against polluters and activating and mobilizing the community through educational and volunteer activities.


Orange County Coastkeeper began from the temporary closure of some Orange County beaches in 1999 due to water quality problems. The group started with three employees and a budget just enough to venture. Since then, founding director Garry Brown, known for his tropical shirt aesthetic, has built an organization with 24 full-time employees and over 21 years of achievements protecting the waters of Orange County, Inland Empire and Coachella Valley.


  • Incorporated Inland Empire Waterkeeper and Coachella Valley Waterkeeper as chapters of Orange County Coastkeeper
  • Eight streams gained protected status and earned funds for restoration projects
  • 40,000 students connected with our environment through hands-on field trips at no cost to schools
  • $3.5+ million contributed to environmental restoration projects through legal enforcement
  • 1280 sq. meters of planted eelgrass, which have now grown to almost an acre of eelgrass beds, improving Newport Bay ecosystems
  • Restored Olympia Oysters in the Upper Newport Harbor and Alamitos Bay
  • 130 volunteer divers trained to plant kelp and monitor reefs in Crystal Cove, Little Corona, Upper Newport Bay and Laguna Beach
  • 100 industrial sites stopped producing legal runoff pollution through legal enforcement
  • Created the Coastkeeper garden, a 2.5-acre demonstration garden that promotes water conservation, drought-tolerant landscapes and urban runoff reduction
  • Advocated to establish seven marine protected areas across Orange County, and mobilized volunteer researchers to conduct an average of 450 MPA surveys per year to track how human activity affects these underwater sanctuaries
  • Worked to recommend allocations of $58 million to install stormwater capture systems in the streets across Orange County. Today more than 160 projects filter stormwater pollution before it flows through storm drains and into our waterways
  • Provided water quality guidance to every major development project in Orange County for 20 years


Orange County Coastkeeper

  • Garry Brown, Founding director
  • Waterkeeper Alliance


For twenty-one years, Southern California residents have relied on Orange County Coastkeeper to be their leading voice in protecting clean water. The organization works collaboratively with diverse groups in the public and private sectors to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources for the region. Coastkeeper achieves this through innovative, effective programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research, enforcement, and conservation. Coastkeeper is a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, which has 350 different independent programs across 48 countries. For more information, visit or call 714-850-1965.